New York begins COVID-19 vaccine program with ICU nurse

Dylan Stableford
·Senior Writer
·2 min read

A New York City ICU nurse became the first New Yorker, and possibly the first American, to receive an authorized coronavirus vaccine Monday.

At a virtual press briefing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced the historic recipient, Sandra Lindsay, who works at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens.

Shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was authorized by the FDA on Friday night, began arriving at hospitals over the weekend, and frontline health care workers began receiving them Monday.

Lindsay received an ovation from health officials and others gathered to watch the injection, which was administered by Dr. Michelle Chester.

"It didn't feel any different than taking any other vaccine," Lindsay said.

Lindsay said she was "feeling hopeful today" that the rollout of the vaccine would be the "beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history" — and a virus that has killed more than 1.6 million people around the world.

Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at New York's Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester on Monday.
Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at New York's Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester on Monday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, Pool)

"I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe," she said. "We're in a pandemic so we all need to do our part."

“I believe in science,” Lindsay added. “As a nurse I am guided by science.”

New York was one of the first and hardest-hit states in the pandemic. Overall, more than 35,000 people have died, according to state health officials, and over 780,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported.

"I know how horrific it was," Cuomo told the health care workers. "It was a modern-day battlefield. And that's why the word heroes is so appropriate for what you do."

The arrival of the vaccine comes as the United States is bracing for yet another grim milestone. By the end of Monday, at least 300,000 Americans will have died from complications related to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and more than 16 million have been infected.

That Lindsay, a Black woman, was one of the first Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine wasn't lost on her fellow Black health care workers.

"Wow, goosebumps!" tweeted Dr. Uché Blackstock, CEO of Advancing Health Equity and a Yahoo News medical contributor. "The first person vaccinated in NYC is a Black woman receiving the vaccine from another Black woman against a virus that has disproportionately killed Black Americans due to systemic racism."

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